Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Blacknight Urge Customers to Help Save WHOIS Privacy

WHOIS privacy services are in danger and Blacknight is urging customers who care about online privacy to join them in preserving the right to privacy.

The WHOIS record is the contact information that a user provides when they register a domain name. Many domain registrars provide privacy protection services that prevent that information from being publicly listed and instead replace it with the contact information for their own business in the WHOIS record.

ICANN, (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is working on a program that would create new restrictions on the companies or “providers” that offer WHOIS privacy services. These restrictions could force providers to monitor use of domain names and websites as well as terminate privacy services and publish user WHOIS contact data. Providers could also be required to furnish user contact information for anyone who makes a complaint about trademark or copyright violations on the user’s website. The complaints do not need to be verified and these actions would not require a court order, search warrant, or due process.

ICANN is creating this program to combat various forms of cybercrime. However, there are several reasons why a user might not want their personal contact details to be made public that have nothing to do with disguising criminal activity. Reasons range from not wanting one’s telephone number and home address to be easily accessible by anyone doing a simple search to users who run online businesses from their home wishing to not have customers turn up at the door.

Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon explains: “WHOIS privacy services are the most basic privacy protections that are available to domain name registrants. Removing the ability to keep user’s home addresses private is absolute insanity. I can think of a number of reasons WHOIS privacy services are important just in relation to personal safety let alone the loads of practical reasons why a user wouldn’t want their personal contact details to appear in a public listing. I shudder to think about the future of online harassment and safety if this new program should come to pass.”

Concerned users should note that ICANN has opened a public comment period on this program. Blacknight encourages customers who use WHOIS privacy services or care about privacy online to let ICANN know why they use privacy services and how these new rules will affect them. Anyone who would like to comment should put their concerns in an email and send to by 7 July 2015. An automatic email reply will then be received asking the sender to confirm their email address; once confirmed, the comment will be posted.

For more information about WHOIS privacy, please visit

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